Hanging scroll, ink on waxed paper


  • Zhao Zhiqian, Calligraphy in Running Script
  • Zhao Zhiqian (Artist)
  • 趙 之謙 (Contributor)
Resource Type
  • Image
  • Identifier
    • Identifier Type
      Locally defined identifier
      Identifier Value
      Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of Jeannette Shambaugh Elliott. 1984.602
    • Dimension: calligraphy 120.5 x 30.5 cm; mounting 211.5 x 46 cm
    • Calligraphy: 上黨郡十四縣其一陽阿郡,國志郡黨郡所領惟少余吾。
    • Inscription: 口口尊兄大人属意。 撝叔弟趙之謙。 Translation: For my dear friend ?, younger brother Zhao Zhiqian
    • Artist's Seal: 趙之謙印 Seal of Zhao Zhiqian (square intaglio), 長陵舊學 Imperial mausoleum, classical learning (square relief)
    • Zhao Zhiqian (1829-1884, alternative name Beian, 悲庵, Lengjun, 冷君, Huishu, 撝叔, Yifu, 益甫) was born to a merchant family in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. The family lost its fortune while Zhao was still a teenager. In his thirties, Zhao lost his wife and children, who were living away from him while fleeing from the Taiping Rebellion. The hao (artist’s alias) he adopted around this time, Bei’an (hut of sorrow), reflects his grief. Nevertheless, he was still able to focus on his studies, especially epigraphy (jinshi xue), the study of ancient inscriptions carved on bronzes and stones. He started studying epigraphy when he was still a teenager under a local scholar, Shen Fucan (1779-1850). When he was in his twenties, he traveled around receiving painting, calligraphy, and seal-carving commissions to support himself and his family. By the time he was in his thirties, he was well recognized as an accomplished calligrapher, seal carver, and painter. Hoping to pass the Civil Service Exam, he visited Beijing several times where he befriended other intellectuals, such as Shen Shuyong (1832-1873) and Hu Shu (1825-1882). Although he passed a local Civil Service Exam when he was 31, he never could pass the national exam to acquire the jinshi title that would have brought him a high-ranking government official’s post. As a well-educated man of his time, it seems that his ultimate goal was to serve society. He later bought a civil service position, and devoted himself faithfully to serving as a provincial governor until he died. Zhao Zhiqian, like many other calligraphers of his time, was fascinated by ancient Chinese inscriptions, especially those from the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). However, his work is not a mere imitation of an ancient script. This couplet in the running (cursive) script reflects the unique, yet elegant style he developed through his diligent study of the past. He is regarded as one of the foremost calligrapher of the late Qing dynasty (1644-1912). As an accomplished seal carver, Zhao Zhiqian used numerous seals throughout his life. This couplet bears the same combination of seals as Eight-character-line Couplet in Seal Script from the Lechangzai Xuan Collection, dated 1869 (Double Beauty II: Qing Dynasty Couplets from the Lechangzai Xuan Collection, cat. 133). Reference: Chang, Joseph, et al. Brushing the Past: Later Chinese Calligraphy from the Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth. Washington DC: Freer Gallery of Art, 2000. Mok, Harold, ed. Double Beauty II: Qing Dynasty Couplets from the Lechangzai Xuan Collection. Hong Kong: Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007. Uno Sesson. Chūgoku shod ōshi. v.2. Tokyo: Mokuji sha, 1976

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